Detainees End Brief Hunger Strike at Adelanto Immigration Facility, Officials Say

A group of immigration detainees staged a brief hunger strike this week as they sought reduced bail and improved conditions at the Adelanto Detention Facility in San Bernardino County.

Eight detainees began refusing food Monday morning, immigration officials said. Two had resumed eating by Tuesday, and on Wednesday, the remaining six ate lunch and drank a nutritional beverage, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice.

The group of asylum seekers from Central America said that bail for detainees had been set “impossibly high” and that they have faced “humiliation and discrimination,” bad food and incompetent medical staff.

Tristan Call, a spokesman for Sureñxs En Acción, a Nashville-based activist organization that has been working with the detainees, said he has not heard from them and could not confirm that the strike had ended.

Several women also had indicated they would join the hunger strikers, but they have not refused meals, Kice said.

The privately run Adelanto facility has long faced scrutiny from immigrant advocates over alleged neglect, lack of adequate medical care and other issues. It faced increased attention this year following the deaths of three detainees.

Detainee Isaac Lopez Castillo said in a statement that the hunger strikers hoped to bring outside attention to conditions at Adelanto. The facility is operated by the Geo Group, a private contractor that owns and runs dozens of private prisons and detention centers across the country.

“We are from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala,” Lopez Castillo said in the statement released through Sureñxs En Acción. “Adelanto is one of the prisons which exists for those who are seeking political asylum, and in reality our records are clean, none of us have prior criminal records. The bail is set impossibly high, and it’s a humiliating joke because we are poor, we don’t have that kind of money.”

The detainees issued demands that included reduced bail, political asylum, new uniforms, more time for religious services and clean water at all hours of the day.

They came to the United States as part of a caravan fleeing violence in Central America, Call said.

By Paloma Esquivel for Los Angeles Times
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